Kim Yo-jong warns U.S. about 'disappointment'
Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader, warned Tuesday the United States could be in for great "disappointment" after the White House called Kim Jong-un's remarks on dialogue and confrontation an "interesting signal."
"It seems the U.S. may be interpreting the situation in a way that brings comfort to itself," she said in a statement reported by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). "Their interpretation, which they took the wrong way, could plunge them into greater disappointment."
In a plenary meeting of the North's ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee last Thursday, leader Kim said he would prepare for either dialogue or confrontation with the United States — "especially to get fully prepared for confrontation."
This was the North Korean leader's first direct message to the new U.S. administration of Joe Biden.
In an interview with ABC News Sunday, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan described Kim's comments as an "interesting signal."
Sullivan said that Washington is waiting for Pyongyang to send a clear message as to "whether they are prepared to sit down at the table."
The Biden administration has said it will take a "practical" approach to North Korea.
In her statement Tuesday, Kim Yo-jong referred to Sullivan's remarks and referred to a Korean proverb, "In a dream, what counts most is to read it, not to have it," seeming to suggest greater analysis is needed on the Americans' part.
Her statement was reported a day after Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea, said the United States has offered to meet with the North "anywhere, anytime, without preconditions," during a visit to Seoul Monday to meet with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts.
Kim Yo-jong, who is vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, is considered her brother's closest aide, having accompanied him to North Korea-U.S. and inter-Korean summits. She has issued strongly-worded statements directed at Washington and Seoul since dialogue fell apart.
In June last year, North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, the sole fixed communication office between the two countries days, which Kim said was to protest the dispatch of anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border by defectors.
On the eve of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Seoul in March, Kim released a statement saying Washington "had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step," which was seen as the North's first message to the new Biden administration.
Her most recent remarks could be construed as turning down the U.S. nuclear envoy's offer of dialogue without preconditions.
Some analysts say that Pyongyang may be waiting for Washington to put forward concrete reasons to return to negotiations, which have been frozen since the collapse of the North-U.S. summit in the Vietnamese capital in February 2019.
Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute, pointed out that Kim Yo-jong's negativity could simply indicate that "North Korea is not yet ready to immediately engage in dialogue with the United States," but that Pyongyang will likely start preparations since Kim Jong-un ordered last week for both dialogue and confrontation.
"North Korea seems to be pursuing a policy of resuming exchanges and cooperation with China first, and then considering negotiations with the United States if necessary," Cheong added.
Because of the difficulty in finding a contact point between Pyongyang and Washington and building mutual trust, Cheong said, "The United States should get China to bring North Korea to the negotiating table by pushing for the holding of four-party talks, also including China and South Korea."
The KCNA on Tuesday reported extensively on a photo exhibition held at the Chinese Embassy in North Korea Monday to mark the second anniversary of the meeting between Kim Jong-un and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Pyongyang.
Chinese Ambassador to Pyongyang Li Jinjun said the two leaders had come to an "important common understanding on preserving peace and stability of the Korean peninsula while jointly shaping the beautiful future of the development" of China-North Korea relations.
Kim and Xi held five summits in 2018 and 2019, including one in Pyongyang in June 2019.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]